Homemade Raw Milk Yogurt

yoghurt

Our family are converted !  In France a simple yogurt is the dessert of choice for many families.  I quickly adopted the idea and in the evening, I think it even helps me sleep (I read that somewhere !).    As any family knows, the cost of pre-made yogurts adds up quickly as well as the temptation (fueled by your children) to buy the “flavoured” or “low fat” kind as there is so much on offer in the yogurt section !

milkbottle

So why not simplify things and make your own, its super super easy !  AND if you are already saying “I don’t have a yogurt maker”, well you don’t need one.  I do believe that raw and whole milk makes a difference, so if you can get your hands on that….

yoghurtfraise

Homemade Yogurt

  • Servings: 9 x 125ml pots
  • Print

  • 1 liter of whole milk (raw if possible)
  • 1 shop bought yogurt (whole milk)
  • 1 Vanilla Bean cut in half lengthways (optional)

Equipment

  • Heavy bottomed saucepan
  • Thermometer
  • A cooler
  • A towel or blanket

Bring the milk and the vanilla bean to a boil (WATCH it or it will overflow) then turn right down.  Let the milk simmer for 2 to 3 minutes then take it off the heat and pop a thermometer in it.  Leave it to cool to 48° to 50°C (try to be precise)….  The shop bought yogurt needs to be at room temp or warmer, I place it next to the milk pan while it heating up.   Remove the vanilla and add the yogurt to the milk and stir well, I use a stick blender quickly to make sure the yogurt is well blended into the milk.

Without waiting or your milk will start to cool, pour into small containers or one bigger container, close and place into a cooler that you have lined with a towel or blanket.  Wrap the blanket around the yogurt pots and close the cooler.  Leave the yogurt in the cooler for around 8 hours before removing it and placing it in the fridge.  My yogurt (its actually my husband that makes it in our house….  MERCI) lasts for over a week in the fridge.  It doesn’t really go off, it just gets a bit stronger in taste veering towards “cheesy” eventually.

Note that you can replace the shop bought yogurt with one of your own but from time to time use a shop bought one to make sure the ferments are active enough !

In our house, we usually just eat our yogurt with some unrefined sugar or honey, but I also like mixing in some jam or fruit coulis !

Bon appetît !

Make your own Paneer (Indian cheese)

paneer

This DIY project has become a regular in my household (and a quick and easy one it is !).  Inspired, once again, by having access to incredible raw milk direct from the farm yet another “impossible to find in rural France” item can be made by ME 🙂

milkbottle

Haven’t heard of Paneer ?  You will find a recipe that uses it in most Indian Cookbooks.  My favourite is “Matar Paneer” which is crispy cubes of Paneer with Peas in a fragrant tomato sauce (I’ll share my favourite recipe for that soon 😉 ).

I believe that Paneer must be one of the simplest cheeses to make at home. Heat the milk, separate the curds using an acid and press into a block.  You can then cut the cheese into cubes and use it in many yummy recipes !  You can also just pan fry the cubes, sprinkle them with sea salt and hot pepper flakes to be served with drinks….

The milk I used was just beautiful !  If you look closely, you’ll see a few inches of cream floating on the top ….  Mmmmmm

milkclose

paneercloth

paneer curds

paneercurds

paneerpoid

Paneer Cheese

  • Servings: makes enough for a curry for 6
  • Print

  • 2 litres of fresh whole milk
  • a small pot of yoghurt (stirred)
  • 5 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • glass of cold water

Heat the milk slowly to boiling point in a heavy bottomed pan, stirring with a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile place a colander in a large pan (big enough to hold 2 litres) and place a cheese cloth in the colander.

As it reaches a boil, turn the heat right down and add the yoghurt and continue stirring.  Pour the lemon juice in slowly and once the curds start to separate (this will happen very quickly and will be quite obvious) remove the pan from the heat.  Add the cold water and pour the whole lot into the cheese cloth lined colander.

A this point, don’t leave it cool but squeeze out the excess liquid right away or the curds will dry and you won’t get a nice smooth block of cheese.  Place your ball of cheese, still in the cloth, on a baking tray and place a cutting board on top and press down to squeeze even more liquid out.  I then place something heavy on the board like a cast iron pan or a pan filled with water.

Leave it like that for about 20 minutes.  You can then unwrap your cheese.  If you don’t use it right away, place it in a container and cover it with water and salt.  It can be kept in the fridge like this for several days.

Bon Appetît !

Crème de Polenta

DSC_0001

Since being in rural France I have discovered the wonders of Polenta !  Not because cornmeal is very popular in French cuisine (I tend to think more of Italy).  Its a wonderful Producer, Jon Harlouchet who grows an old variety of RED CORN called Grand Roux, common in the Basque country many moons before the big seed companies took control of what we are to grow and eat.  This corn is just perfect for making Polenta !  You can read more about it on my friend Carol Reid’s BLOG.  More recently the Grand Roux variety of corn has been the given the SLOW FOOD ARK OF TASTE status, which helps protect biodiversity in traditional foods.

Polenta

For a change, this is a great way to use Polenta as a simple, lightly sweetened snack or dessert.  Good quality milk makes all the difference, if you can get it.  Here I used fresh raw milk from Jersey Cows also produced in the Basque Country.

DSC_9692

crème de polenta

  • Servings: 9 or 10 125ml pots
  • Print

  • 85g sugar (I used unrefined and organic)
  • 85g polenta
  • 1 litre fresh milk
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons rum, according to taste (this is optional)

Bring the sugar, polenta and milk gently to the boiling point (pouring the polenta into the milk in a slow stream to avoid lumps).  Turn the heat right down and cook over a very low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes to thicken the mixture.  Stirring often with a wooden spoon.  It will still be quite liquid.  Add the rum, stir well and pour into one big bowl or individual glasses.  Once cooled, off they go into the fridge to set for at least a few hours or overnight.

(adapted from our dear friend Marie’s delicious version) 🙂

Bon appetît !